Old-fashioned Celery Dressing

Celery Dressing in Bowl

Dressing (or stuffing as I often call it) is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal, so when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Celery Dressing I decided to give it a try. This recipe makes a bread dressing that is embedded with lots of celery, and is nicely seasoned with sage.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

Most times when I make hundred-year-old recipes, I try to follow the recipe as closely as I can, but with this recipe I ended up making several adaptations. When I updated the recipe, I quadrupled it.  The original recipe didn’t make much stuffing.

I used 1-inch soft bread pieces rather than dried bread crumbs.  This recipe called for an awfully lot of butter (3/4 cup of butter for every 2 cups of bread crumbs), so I reduced the amount when updating the recipe. Maybe the very large amount of butter would work if I’d used dried bread crumbs – but even then it seems like it would be too much.

Finally, I didn’t have any onion juice, so instead of using the juice, I used finely chopped onions.

This dressing can be stuffed into a turkey. Addiitonal adaptations may need to be made (such as addiing both or other liquid) if cooked in a casserole dish.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Celery Dressing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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This recipe makes enough for a 9-10 pound turkey.

8 cups 1-inch pieces of bread or bread cubes (I tore bread into small pieces.)

1 cup butter

4 cups chopped celery

4 teaspoons onion juice or 1/2 cup finely chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons ground sage

Melt butter in a skillet, stir in the celery (and chopped onions, if used). Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the salt, pepper, and sage (and onion juice, if used). Pour over the bread pieces and stir to combine. Stuff turkey with the dressing, then roast turkey.


Old-fashioned Coconut Pumpkin Pie

Slice of Coconut Pumpkin Pie

When it comes to planning my Thanksgiving menu I always struggle with getting the right balance between traditional foods and new recipes. New recipes that are variations of traditional foods can be a nice way to strike that balance. I recently came across a new recipe (well, actually a hundred-year-old recipe – but it was new to me) for Coconut Pumpkin Pie, and decided to give it a try.

The coconut gave the pie a lovely milky sweetness that blended nicely with the pumpkin. The recipe called for two spices – nutmeg and cinnamon. My standard pumpkin pie recipe does not use nutmeg, so the flavor was noticeably different from many typical pumpkin pies, but it was lovely. The verdict – this recipe is a keeper and I may make it again for the big day.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Coconut Pumpking Pie
Source: Cement City Cook Book Compiled by the First Baptist Church Alpena, Michigan (1922)

What is the correct way to spell “coconut:”? The old recipe spells it “cocoanut” though I usually see it spelled “coconut,” so I went with the latter spelling when I updated the recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 6 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 eggs, beaten

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup shredded coconut

1 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Put the eggs in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth and lemon colored. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg: beat until combined. Stir in the coconut, and pour into the pie shell. Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue baking until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Rice and Celery Croquettes

Cooks are always looking for tasty recipes that use left-overs. A hundred-years-ago croquettes were a popular way to use left-over vegetables, meats, and other foods. Often the croquettes were shaped into balls or small cylinders, and then fried.

I don’t make croquette recipes very often because I worry about whether fried foods are healthy. But I recently came across a recipe for Rice and Celery Croquettes that called for baking the croquettes rather than frying them, so I decided to give the recipe a try. The croquettes had a nice breaded coating, and a delicate onion and celery flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rice and Celery Croquettes
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

500° F. seemed like a very high temperature and I was concerned that the top of the croquettes would burn before the centers got hot, so I baked the croquettes at 425° F.

The ingredient list called for strained tomatoes, but the directions referred to tomato juice, so I used tomato juice. Rather than grating the onion, I finely chopped it.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice and Celery Croquettes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cooked rice

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato juice

2 eggs

1/8 teaspoon beef extract or bouillon powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fine plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put the beef extract powder or bouillon powder and tomato juice in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the extract/bouillon powder Set aside.

Mix together rice, celery, onions, 1 egg, salt, and tomato juice with beef extract/bouillon. Shape into croquettes. I made round croquettes that were about 1-inch in diameter.

Put bread crumbs on a plate, then roll the croquettes in the breadcrumbs. Dip the coated croquettes in a beaten egg that has been mixed with two tablespoons water, then roll again in the bread crumbs.

Put the croquettes in a overproof baking dish or skillet. (I used a cast iron skillet). Dot top of croquettes with small pieces of butter. Place in oven and bake until the croquettes are lightly browned (about 35 minutes). If they are not sufficiently browned, increase oven temperature to 500° F. and bake for several additional minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

www. ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Steamed (Winter) Squash

Steamed squash in bowl

Yesterday my husband and I made our annual trip to a farm where the farmer sells pumpkins and squash from a farm wagon. We’ve purchased pumpkins and squash from the same farmer for more than ten years, and always look forward to a conversation about the weather, how young people don’t know that Hubbard squash is a squash, and tend to think of it as a decorative gourd, and so on.

We weren’t disapointed. The farmer had three farm wagons filled with orange, yellow, green, and white pumpkins, and butternut, acorn, Hubbard, and other types of squash.

When I got home, I flipped through my hundred-year-old cookbooks and found a recipe for Steamed (Winter) Squash. The recipe is very simple. Sometimes simple is best. Chunks of squash are steamed, then mashed. Butter, salt, pepper, and a small amount of sugar are then stirred into the squash. The mashed Steamed Squash was delightful. It’s a perfect comfort food, and  brings warm memories of eating a similar vegetable dish when I was a child.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Steamed Squash
Source: Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book (1922)

I found this recipe a little difficult to follow, but I interpreted it to mean that fairly large chunks of winter squash that have not been peeled should be put into the steamer. After steaming, the pulp is removed from the squash shell, then mashed.

Since there are no amounts listed in this recipe, I made a judgement about how much of each ingredient to use to make 3-4 servings of the Steamed Squash.

Squash chunks in steamer

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Steamed Winter Squash

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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About 1 pound winter squash (I used 1/2 of a butternut squash)

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/8 teamspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut squash into large chunks (if necessary remove seeds), each about 4 inches across, Do not peel. Put the chunks of squash in a large pan that contains a steamer. Add water to the pan, so that it comes to just below the steamer. Cover pan. Using high heat, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat so the water continues gently boiling. Keep pan covered and steam until the squash is tender (about 20-30 minutes).  Remove from heat. Using a spoon scrape the squash pulp from the shell. Put into a mixing bowl and mash. Stir in butter, salt, pepper, and sugar. Put in serving bowl and serve immediately.


Old-fashioned Ginger Pears

jar of ginger pears

Pears are in season, and I’m always looking for tasty ways to serve them, so was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Ginger Pears. This is a recipe for canned pears with ginger. The sweet, warm, slightly peppery tang of the ginger added a new dimension to the pears, and turned what could be a mundane canned fruit into a taste treat.

Here’s the original recipe:

Jar of Ginger Pears
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

I assumed that “green ginger root” was just a more detailed term for ginger root.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Ginger Pears

  • Servings: 3 -4 pints
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 pounds hard, green pears (about 12-15 pears)

3 pounds sugar

2 ounces ginger root, peeled and very finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

juice from 2 lemons

Peel and core pears, then thinly slice. Put the pears in a bowl and cover with sugar; let sit for two hours. Put the pears, including any liquid in a Dutch oven or large pan; add lemon juice and chopped ginger root. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the pears are translucent and the syrup clear and thick (about 20 minutes). Periodically, gently stir while cooking.

Pack the pear slices and syrup into hot pint jars; fill to 1/4 inch of top. Wipe jar rim and put lid on. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.


Old-fashioned Rice Ressetto (Risotto?)

Rice Ressetto (Risotto)

I occasionally see recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks where the name of the recipe doesn’t seem quite right – and I think that either the spelling of the name has changed across the years, the recipe author didn’t know how to spell, or that  there was a typo. This is one of the times. The recipe is for Rice Ressetto, but I think that it is really a tomato risotto recipe.

This dish contained rice, tomatoes, and green peppers. It turned out okay, but was much less spicy than similar recipes typically would be today.

Rice Ressetto (Risotto)
Source: Cement City Cook Book (1922) published by First Baptist Church, Alpena, Michigan

I’m not sure how Spanish sweet pepper differs from green pepper, so I only used green pepper when I made the recipe. The ratio of rice to water is less than typical for cooking rice which means that the rice was still semi-firm when prepared. It was quite dry, and did not need to be drained. This semi-cooked rice then absorbed juice from the tomatoes and softened while baking.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice Ressetto (Risotto)

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup rice

1 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 pint tomatoes, diced (14.5 ounce can)

1 medium green pepper,  chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put water in a large saucepan; bring to boil. Stir in rice, butter, salt, and pepper, then put cover on pan and reduce heat to low. Cook for five minutes, then turn off heat. Let rice sit for at least 10 minutes. (The rice will still be somewhat firm.) In the meantime put the tomatoes and green pepper in another saucepan. Heat until hot and bubbly, then stir in the rice. Put into a casserole dish and cover. Heat in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and serve.


Old-fashioned Chives Salad Dressing

Chives Salad Dressing and Lettuce on Plate

I’m always looking for recipes for healthy, easy-to-make homemade salad dressing, so was pleased to find a recipe for Chives Salad Dressing in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

Chives Salad Dressing was a lovely vinaigrette with chopped chives and chopped hard-boiled egg.

Here’s the original recipe:

Chives Salad Dressing
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)

I used olive oil when I made this dressing.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chives Salad Dressing

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped

Put vegetable oil or olive oil, vinegar, salt, paprika, and white pepper in a small bowl; stir to combine. Add chives and chopped egg. Serve on tomato, lettuce, or other similar salads.